Foul and Fair's Christmas Wishlist

Dearest Santa,

Morgan and Bradford here. I hope you remember us on the Nice list. We've never doubted your existence, especially after you hooked us up with 60-degree weather into Kwanzaa all throughout the Northeast. But our hearts crave more than warm weather caused by the eco-disastrous externalities of our industrial avarice (we promise to drive Priuses next year). Here’s our wishlist for this holiday season:

1) Higher graduation rates for African American male athletes

Last year, the NCAA bragged that student-athletes were earning diplomas at a “record rate.” In 2007—the year with data most recently available—the graduation success rate for D1 student athletes was 84 percent. For white athletes, it was 89 percent. But for African American males, a demographic that makes up a quarter of D1 students, it falls to 65 percent. Let’s take a look at a different metric:

“African-American male student-athletes earned a 52 percent federal graduation rate—11 points higher than the federal graduation rate for African-American men in the overall student body.... Federal rates in men’s basketball and FBS football do lag behind the rates of men in the student body, though African-Americans in those sports complete their degrees at a higher rate than African-American men generally.”

So that’s not so hot. You’ll feel extra un-jolly after reading this. (Also, here is the college football top 25—ranked by academics.)

2) National love for Simone Biles

Simone Biles is 18, 4’9, and has won the last three gymnastics World Championships by stampeding the competition. She’s a huge favorite to win the Olympics in 2016, beating the reigning gold medalist Gabby Douglas several months ago. But wait! There’s more to her story.

Biles and her sister Adria were foster children, then later adopted as toddlers by their grandparents, who intervened when their birth mom’s addition struggles became too severe. (She’s one of eight kids.) Biles’ first interaction with gymnastics came on a daycare field trip; today she has 10 World’s gold medals. Folks haven’t always been kind: after Biles had become the first African-American to win a world championship, she received racist insults from an Italian gymnast.

"It feels like I've made a pretty big impact on the gymnastics world," Biles said earlier this year. "It more hits me that I'm a leader or a role model whenever I go to meets and I have all these little girls following me for my autograph, and I'm like, 'Why? I'm just the same as you! It makes me really happy and it's such an honor that I get to inspire them." (You’re already on it, Essence.)

3) Woke student athletes

Mizzou football players showed guts when they boycotted all football related activities until changes were made to their racially insensitive administration. Emboldened by student-led protests, pockets of faculty frustrations, and even Republican and Democrat disapproval, the boycott was the nail in the coffin.

It’s difficult to imagine the pressure those athletes faced from detractors, especially in light of threats to remove their scholarships (which isn’t too far removed from the graduation rate request, Mr. Claus). But, Santa, when you start sliding down our chimneys, remind these students that the approximately 1 billion in yearly NCAA revenue depends on their free, exceptionally-skilled labor.

4) Billionaires paying for their damn stadiums.


Have you ever been to Yankee Stadium to watch Derek Jeter and the other chumps that play for his team? Enjoyed a Lobel’s steak sandwich ($15) alongside your beer ($6) and have you ever noticed the way Jeter’s eyes glisten in the sunshine during a Sunday matinee I really miss him? Those prices are cringe-worthy, but it’s nothing compared to the $1.2 billion spent in state and city subsidies. How’s that hot dog tasting now?

Santa, can you please stuff the largest, most obnoxious lump of coal in every politician and billionaire that keeps telling their team’s municipality that a publicly funded stadium stimulates the economy (that’s most of them—there’s a 90% replacement rate since 1990)? Lying is a sin, and they belong on the Naughty List for abusing the goodwill of their constituents.

This money is diverted away from schools, parks (no, not ballparks, just the parks kids play in after dismissal from their underfunded schools) and urban infrastructure. They don’t create jobs. They don’t sell enough Cracker Jacks to make up for the hundreds of millions taken from the city. Citizens can’t vote on the deals. The only people that profit are the already-fabulously-wealthy owners of these sports teams. If you want to learn more, but also want to hear a British man cuss, John Oliver’s got you covered.

Thanks, Santa, tell the misses hello for us. You can have the last cookie.


Morgan and Bradford

Stick to sports.

If Santa lets us make a quick addendum to our list, can we go to the Starbury museum?

Delay of game.

Will Smith is not pleased. The NFL is pulling funding from an extensive study lead by Boston University on head trauma. Apparently the 30 million dollar gift the league promised, came, with, well, some other promises:

“When the NFL's "unrestricted" $30 million gift was announced in 2012, the NIH said the money came "with no strings attached". Two years later however, an NIH official clarified the gift terms: actually, the league retained veto power over projects that it funds. So maybe Concussion can make up that deficit when it opens on Christmas Day this week?

(Not) For Pete’s Sake! Rob Manfred decided not to gamble on reinstating Pete Rose back into MLB. Of course, some are happy to reveal the league’s hand, and all its hypocrisy:

“At 74, Rose has long since stroked his last hit. He’s no threat to manage a game. He will not stand in the third-base box waving around a runner. This deeply flawed man has passed decades in a purgatory of his own making.

It’s hard to see the harm in giving this man a Hall of Fame plaque. The museum, set amid the rolling hills and fens of central New York, has displayed an admirable willingness to take a clear-eyed view of the sport it celebrates. There are home runs and no-hitters, and discussions of steroids and racism and owners’ illegal collusion.”

Baseball has a new policy on netting but there’s (ALWAYS) a catch. I’m plugging former Times op-ed scribe turned sports business analyst Joe Nocera’s screed against MLB’s net policy, if only to remind you that money touches everything. (And especially those foul balls screaming towards your head.)

A Brief History of Russia and FIFA.


/Sepp Blatter pours over FIFA’s bookkeeping

/“How we reallocate a couple mil here, a couple mil there, so we can put the World Cup in a country in two continents with 11 time zones and one seized property? England, Netherlands/Belgium, and Spain/Portugal already countries hanging out in countries not their own, er World Cup hosts.


/Announcing Russia as FIFA’s pick to host the 2018 World Cup.

/“Glad to have found a country that reflects the values of unity and tolerance essential to a global game! Plus the climate is perfect for futbol!”


/Putin on Blatter: “This is who should be given the Nobel Peace Prize.”*


/FIFA disinvites Blatter from 2018 World Cup, bans him from sport for eight years.


/World almost feels that justice has been done but then remembers hundreds of migrants dying, constructing stadiums in Gulf States because someone (ahem Blatter) thought the World Cup should be played during the Premiere League season, aka WINTER!

*BTW, this is LITERALLY a direct quote.

Sticks and stones may break my bones. “When athletics becomes a business, anything that becomes an elephant in the room is not discussed.” Those are the words of a women’s hockey coach with three decades in the game. Digit Murphy is talking about conversations about concussions, or lack thereof. This is despite the fact that they affected at least one in five female NCAA hockey players according to a 2014 self-reported poll. And despite the fact that “women with concussion histories described memory deficits and fears of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that has been diagnosed in dozens of former football and hockey players. Many share a familiar script of being holed up in dark rooms, sometimes having to abandon school, jobs and their playing careers.”

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Drink lots of coquito for us, please. Happy Holidays.

Morgan and Bradford.